Where Do AirDrop Files and Photos Go on Mac?

If you are using AirDrop to transfer files to your Mac, you could be a little confused about where they go. It’s no secret and you can get to them quite easily if you look in Finder under the Downloads section.

My name is Eric. I enjoy solving problems and helping others to learn from my findings. I have been working with computers since the late 1970s so I have seen a lot over the years. My current focus is on macOS so I would love to show you what I have found about AirDrop.

Finding out where your AirDrop files have been stored is fairly straightforward as you have seen above. If you are not familiar with what Airdrop is, stick around and we will take a closer look to see what it is and get an overview of how to use it.

Keep reading to find out more!

Where Are They?

As you can see from our quick answer above, files that are sent to you via AirDrop can be found in the Downloads section on the left sidebar of Finder. There are other ways to find them but this is the quickest.

If you know the file name, you could type it into the search field in Finder to locate it that way. Another roundabout way to get there would be to navigate through the folders in Finder by going to Macintosh HD->users/<your user name>/Downloads. 

What is AirDrop?

If you’re not familiar with AirDrop, you may be wondering what it is and what it is all about. It may sound complicated and the details of how it works are, but the concept is simple. 

AirDrop is a service provided by Apple which lets you easily transfer files, photos, documents, etc to and from other users. The service is available on all macOS devices and allows transfers between them. 

The service does not use the internet or a network connection. It transfers the data directly from one device to the other wirelessly. There is no limit to the size or type of files that you can share, but the other person or device needs to be within the wireless connection range.

AirDrop uses both BlueTooth and your wireless connection services to accomplish this so you must have both of them turned on. This is a great feature that makes it very easy and secure to move files from one device to another.

How To Use AirDrop

Using AirDrop is not only quick and easy, but it is also a safe and very convenient way to share items with others. There’s no worry about file size like when you email or text files and Apple’s security ensures that no one else can access them. Let’s take a quick look at how it works.

What you will need

  • Each person must be using an Apple device such as a Mac, iPhone, or IPad.
  • Both devices must have wireless and BlueTooth turned on.
  • You will need to have the AirDrop access setting turned on to work with either the users in your contacts list or everyone. To be safe I would suggest using the contacts list and ensuring that the other person is in your contacts list.

Send a File Via AirDrop

Step 1: Locate the file you wish to send in Finder.

Step 2: Right-Click on the file and select Share->AirDrop from the context menu.

Step 3: This will bring up a window with a list of contacts you can select to send the file to. My window currently only shows one person because that is the only contact I have in the range of my computer. Select the contact and it will notify them that you are trying to send a file to them.

Step 4: Once they accept the file you will see the status that it has been sent and you can click on the Done button.

You can also AirDrop by opening Finder, selecting AirDrop from the sidebar, and then dragging and dropping the item onto the contact that you wish to send it to.

Receive A File Via AirDrop

Step1: Have the person who is sending you the file, use the steps above or similar to send you the file.

Step 2: You will see a notification popup like the one shown below.

Step 3: Click on the Accept button and the file will be saved in your Downloads folder. If it is an image, you will also have the option to Open in Photos.

If you choose to Open in Photos, it will be saved to your Photos instead of the Downloads folder.

If the person is sending you the file from a different type of Apple device such as an iPhone or an iPad the steps may be slightly different. If you would like to see more details about Apple’s AirDrop you can refer to the following link.


Can I Change the Location that AirDrop Files Go To?

The quick answer is no. There is not a quick and easy configuration setting that will let you change the location to something different than Downloads.

Some users do want to save their Airdrop files in a different location so that they can keep them separate from other types of files such as those downloaded from email, the internet, or other sources. If this is something that you want to do it can be done.

The process involves setting up a Folder Action which can detect when files are downloaded through AirDrop. The action then moves the downloaded files to your desired folder. If you would like to know more about how to do this, check out the video below.

Final Words

AirDrop is a wonderful feature provided by Apple and it gives us the ability to quickly, easily, and safely transfer data from one device to another. Once transferred, those files can be found and accessed in the Downloads folder which you can get to in your Finder application.

We hope that this information has helped you to find your files and given you some good information about AirDrop. As usual, please let us know if you have any questions or any experiences that you would like to share with us.

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